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Tiffany Montgomery
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Global economic news and information

By Tiffany Montgomery
August 19, 2008 6:33 AM

A few reports out this month detail how the economic slowdown is impacting the rest of the world. The good news is some economists expect growth rates to begin picking up in the middle of 2009.


Here's a roundup:


Europe

In the Euro Area, gross domestic product fell 0.2 percent in the second quarter of 2008 compared to the first quarter.


On a year-over-year basis, gross domestic product grew 1.5 percent vs. the second quarter in 2007, according to the official European Union agency that provides economic statistics.


The Euro Area includes the countries of Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Cyprus, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Austria, Portugal, Slovenia and Finland.


When a wider swath of Europe is measured, the picture is slightly better. In the EU 27, gross domestic product declined 0.1 percent in the second quarter of 2008 vs. the first quarter.


Year-over-year, GDP rose 1.7 percent in the second quarter of 2008 vs. the same period last year.


Lithuania and Slovakia showed the biggest increases in the second quarter vs. the first quarter this year, while Germany, Latvia and Estonia showed the most weakness.


In other European economic news, H & M reported a 15 percent rise in July sales while comp store sales rose 3 percent.


UK

The Bank of England cut its economic-growth forecast for 2009, believing credit conditions will remain challenging and high food and energy costs will take a larger portion of consumers incomes.


The bank expects the growth rate to be flat in the near term, with growth picking up slowly beginning in mid-2009. By late 2010, the bank expects the rate to return to a more normalized level of 2.75 percent growth rate, according to the Wall Street Journal.


Hong Kong

Hong Kong's gross domestic product fell 1.4 percent in the second quarter compared to the first quarter, the first decline in five years.


However, the GDP rose 4.2 percent compared to the same period in 2007.


The government expects the slowdown to last until 2009.


While the economy is slowing, the government still expects a healthy growth rate of 4 percent to 5 percent for 2008, according to the Wall Street Journal.


Japan

Japanese gross domestic product fell 0.6 percent in the second quarter vs. the first quarter.


Year-over-year, GDP grew 1 percent vs. the same period last year.


Economists believe falling exports, cautious consumers, higher commodity and fuel prices and the tough economy in the U.S. caused GDP to fall, according to Bloomberg News.


Australia

The Reserve Bank of Australia (that country's central bank) believes the economy is slowing which will dampen inflationary pressures. The country releases second quarter GDP figures in September.


The bank in a statement hinted it is becoming increasingly concerned about growth, which may open the door for an interest rate cut.


One area of concern the bank cited with retail spending, saying in a statement that "retail sales volumes declined further in the June quarter following the small fall recorded in the March quarter, and consumer sentiment has fallen markedly in recent months."


The housing market has also softened, with house prices falling slightly in the second quarter.


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